You felt the joy leaving you, even physically. Something happened, someone said something, some thought reminding you of your mistakes came up, something happened, and your strength left you. It’s all too familiar.
For so long, we have thought that joy is either something that we have or something that we don’t have. We have thought, “If things go well in my life, I can be joyful, and if things go to crap, I can’t have joy anymore.” Well, that’s actually called “happiness.” It is based on happenstance. If something good happens, I’m happy. If something bad happens, I’m not happy. I know I can relate to letting circumstances control my state of well being. It’s like being tossed to and fro by the waves of the sea. You become unstable and unhappy. But this really isn’t the way God created us to live. He wants us to live with unexplainable joy, unmoved by outward circumstances.
The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. It actually strengthens our body, soul, and spirit so that we can live with hope despite adverse situations. And just as we choose to let a situation control our reaction, steering us toward sadness or anxiety, we can choose to rejoice every day, steering us toward trust in God. I’m not saying it’ll be easy or fun or that you’ll always feel emotions of happiness. But if Paul could be whipped, beaten, and stoned by persecutors and still rejoice in all things, I think we have some room to grow.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.
1 Peter 1:6 NLT
Rejoicing means praising and thanking God no matter what is happening. It’s being glad in God, finding your delight in who He is and His unchanging goodness toward you. It’s having a thankful heart toward Him at all times, which is like medicine to the soul, uplifting our countenance and bringing life to us and those around us. When we rejoice in God, He fills us with joy.
But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy.
Psalms 68:3 NLT
This topic, for me, is one of the hardest to get down. I’m probably much like many of you reading, in the sense that I allow things to steal my joy quite often. I’m very in touch with my emotions, and it can be a strength as well as a weakness. I have found one thing, though. Just like any other habit, the habit of rejoicing at all times becomes more and more of a first reaction the more we do it. Friends, it’s in the Bible. Jesus has purchased something for us. We should want to have it. We should want to obtain it.
This isn’t about “living a positive life,” although I see nothing wrong with living a positive life. This isn’t just about thinking good thoughts, although thinking good thoughts is important. This is about fighting to be joy-keepers, and even greater, joy-givers through our lives. It’s about living with joy that carries us through any situation, because it’s joy from God. This joy is truly available to us as children of God if we will lay hold of it by praising and thanking God. Thankfulness and praise (rejoicing) are the doorway to joy.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
Philippians 4:4 NLT